Some Personal Thoughts on Self-Censorship

Jon Del Arroz is really hitting it out of the park this week (pun intended). His recent article on the national anthem controversy and baseball has really blown up, and he’s been receiving a lot of hate for it. Check out a Best Of compilation of those comments over on his site.

I’d like to talk more, however, on a topic he touched on in a different post yesterday, where he cited a Cato Institute survey which showed that over 70% of the people identified as Republican by the survey (and the number is likely more for those further to the right) feel the need to refrain from sharing their political beliefs. Jon’s own recent experiences, like the recent baseball incident, make this clear. However, it is particularly bad in the world of science fiction and fantasy–both in the realm of business and that of fandom.

I’ve talked about this before, how I’ve too often felt the need to self-censor. I hate it, but in many cases I didn’t want to have to deal with the possible backlash I would receive. Of late, since I decided to self publish, I’ve been freed somewhat, and am far more open politically on Twitter (but I still naturally don’t desire to get truly embroiled in major fights, as a naturally conflict-averse person.) On my Facebook, I really don’t talk politics at all, as I know that the vast majority of my “friends” there are of a different political persuasion, and it could be socially damaging. Of course, if one looked at my twitter, that could lead to the same outcome, but that’s an extra step that most won’t care to take yet. I also do still have some left-leaning friends (not a great many, but they are there) that I would really like to keep. And while I am hopeful that they’re level-headed enough to not completely cut me off and attack me over politics, I’m not sure, and so I avoid it.

But to return to the larger issue in the sci-fi and fantasy writing/fandom world. Over the past 8 or so years, prior to my moving to Israel, I attended a number of conventions: World Fantasy twice, and another, much smaller and more focused convention seven times. Both trips to World Fantasy were more recent, and the political slant was obvious. But with the smaller convention, I still remember my first times attending, and there was really no noticeable agenda in the panels or other talks. I knew that most of the people were likely more to the left than I was, but it wasn’t something that really came up, either in conversation or in panels. As the years went by, however, I did notice changes. They were subtle, not really a big deal at first. Things like jokes about Republicans tossed in for laughs at a panel were easy to ignore; there’s plenty I don’t like about the Republican Party, and either way, it’s just a little joke. It’s easy to just not laugh along. Then it became more noticeable, more common to make jokes at the expense of those on the Right, and most recently, panels focused on SJW topics like cultural appropriation and diversity started to show up, and those topics also popped up in panels not dedicated to them (as I avoided the obvious ones like the plague.) Most recently, I went to a small author event (not a part of a convention), and I very nearly walked out of the panel discussion, it was so head-meltingly focused on those stupid “issues,” and, of course, the panelists took jabs at those on the other side. (I only stayed because I wanted to say hi to someone afterward.) That was the most blatant sign I have seen of the cancer overtaking the genre fiction world, and I knew that if I so much as questioned the stuff they were putting forth, I’d find myself attacked–hopefully only verbally.

I’m going to miss the next to years of the small convention, due to the fact that I will be serving in the Israeli Defense Forces (which certainly will make me haram to at least a significant segment of the Left.) I do intend to return the next year I am able, but I would be lying if I said I wasn’t worried about someone who knows my politics causing a scene, creating a situation in which I cannot win–whether by a con-goer who saw something I posted online, or an author or publishing professional who is aware that I am friends with the “wrong sort of people” in the industry. I’ve met a number of professionals who I know to be hard leftists, and they’ve been perfectly nice–but none knew me, or my beliefs. What might happen if the same interaction happened now, or in a couple of years, as my platform (hopefully) grows?

Luckily, I have found plenty of people who are not part of that cult, and, as I said, I have decided enough is enough and been much more open on Twitter–and am happier for it. When will I first face an SJW mob head-on? I don’t know. If could be this month, it could be in a year, or later. But it will happen. G-d willing, I will be in a good enough position by then that the onslaught won’t have any effect on me, due to both fans of my work and friends who will have my back. It is a scary thing to face, in a way, but, as Jon said, now is the time to speak up, because the more of us there are, the easier it will be for each of us to weather the inevitable storms. (And what if the wrong people see this? Well, I’ll face the mob sooner rather than later, perhaps. Though I’m certainly not sharing this over on Facebook.)

Check out my debut novel, A Greater Duty, book 1 in the Galaxy Ascendant series, which is most definitely not converged. Just a fun, exciting, creative space opera. Sequel dropping later this month!

Also consider checking out my Master’s thesis, Crosscurrents: Navigating The Turbulent Politics Of The Right During The Horthy Era In Hungary, 1920-1944, which will likely trigger somebody some day.

And, if you’re so inclined, and are interested in free short fiction, sign up for my mailing list! (There will never be spam.)

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